|This year we finally have a state budget that reduces state spending and is on time! Over the past eight years, the Rendell administration’s late budget tactics were used to drive state government spending higher and higher.
One of the challenges we faced was a multi-billion dollar budget deficit. The budget deficit was addressed in this year’s budget by reducing spending with no tax increases and even included reductions in the job killing Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.
This is the first budget that I have supported in 13 years because it takes the first step in reversing the fiscally irresponsible spending decisions of the past. According to the House Appropriations Committee, this year’s budget reduces spending by $1.17 billion compared to last year’s budget.
One of the responsibilities that I have this year as Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives State Government Committee involves Congressional redistricting. I recently joined with the Senate State Government Committee Chairman to conduct joint hearings across the state to receive public testimony regarding Congressional redistricting. Due to Pennsylvania’s population growth lagging the rest of the nation, our representation in Congress will be reduced from 19 representatives to 18.
This is not a new trend. We lost two Congressional representatives ten years ago due to our state’s stagnant population growth as reflected in the 2000 Census. If we hope to see this change then we must change the policies that cause people to vote with their feet. Our state government must cut spending, eliminate debt and reduce the overall tax burden in order to create the economic conditions needed for job creation.
This year’s budget is only the first step on the path of fiscally responsible state government and much more needs to be done. An area of this year’s budget that I, and many of my colleagues, wanted to cut is the Department of Public Welfare. It grew by more than $4 billion per year under the previous administration.
However, the new governor proposed to spend even more on welfare in his budget proposal this year. Due to pressure from the legislature, he has agreed to reduce his proposed welfare spending by $404 million. Next year, after the governor has served a full year in office and had time to examine the Department of Public Welfare operations, we will expect his help in eliminating the wasteful and excessive welfare spending.
As we come to a close on this fiscal year, state revenues exceeded expectations by hundreds of millions of dollars. During the budget debate, the Democrats have led a misinformation campaign in an attempt to stop our spending reductions by claiming that the state has a surplus due to the new revenue numbers.
The fact is, when you have a multi-billion dollar deficit and revenue exceeds expectations by hundreds of millions of dollars, you still have a deficit. I will continue my work to protect taxpayers.